As Obama Attends UN Talks, Congress Undoes His Global Warming Agenda

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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As President Barack Obama meets with world leaders at Paris’ United Nations summit, House lawmakers passed legislation to undo a key part of the president’s global warming agenda Tuesday.

House lawmakers passed resolutions to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan. House passage of the anti-EPA resolutions comes just two weeks after the Senate passed the Congressional Review Act resolutions to repeal federal rules on power plants.

“The EPA’s regulations on power plants are well beyond the authority Congress delegated to the agency,” Alabama Republican Rep. Gary Palmer said in a statement of the votes.

Republicans and some Democrats have vehemently opposed the Clean Power Plan’s sweeping mandate that power plants cut carbon dioxide emissions over the next 15 years. The EPA aims to cut 32 percent from the power sector as part of Obama’s pledge to the United Nations that the U.S. would reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2030.

Obama hopes the Clean Power Plan and other regulations will show the world the U.S. is serious about tackling global warming, thus galvanizing support for an international treaty to cut CO2 emissions.

But both chambers of Congress have now passed CRA resolutions to undo the very rules Obama argues bolster America’s credibility on global warming. Obama is likely to veto the bills, but Republicans argue such legislative actions should show the world these regulations may not stay in place very long.

“If the president vetoes these resolutions and these regulations are allowed to stay in place, they will significantly increase energy costs for millions of American households and will be particularly hard on low-income families and senior citizens,” said Palmer, who’s introduced his own bill to rein in the EPA’s ability to impose sweeping regulations.

The Clean Power Plan is also being challenged in federal court by 26 states and dozens of business groups and unions who want to see the regulation thrown out.

During Obama’s Monday appearance at U.N. climate talks in Paris, he once again urged countries to cut emissions or saddle future generations with a less hospitable climate.

“Submerged countries. Abandoned cities. Fields that no longer grow,” Obama warned in his Paris speech Monday. “Political disruptions that trigger new conflict, and even more floods of desperate peoples seeking the sanctuary of nations not their own.”

Obama even called for a legally-binding climate agreement despite promises from a Republican-controlled Senate to veto any international global warming treaty the administration brings before them for approval.

But Obama’s call for a legally-binding treaty comes after Secretary of State John Kerry said such a treaty won’t be legally-binding — Kerry then backtracked somewhat to argue a treaty would be “both legally binding and non-legally binding.”

A new Senate Republican white paper, however, argues the U.N. treaty will likely “be based on political commitments from President Obama… serving to boost his environmental legacy, rather than advance the interest of the American people who do not consider climate change an important issue.”

“Absent approval by the Senate, any deal announced at COP-21 will be little more than a press release, with no binding accountability or enforcement mechanisms in place,” Republicans on the Senate environment and public works committee wrote. “Such an agreement is also limited in duration as the next Administration could change its pledge.”

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